After the shocking news of Couchsurfing accepting a $7.6 million investment and becoming a for-profit company, I just wrote a message to the hospitality exchange community. Most important: Hospitality Club will never be a for-profit business, we are currently developing an open-source site for HC and some behind-the-scenes info on CS. Please read the statement here: http://volunteerwiki.hospitalityclub.org/couchsurfing-for-profit-business-now
Oh, and a special shoutout to my haters here
An appropriate system for a hospitality exchange network will not rise from the ashes of CS 2.0: Today the Newsletter Wanderlust was published, announcing the expansion of hired manpower. I guess, it’s not wrong to call it CS 3.0, the short blossom of CS 2.0 and the chance to open the whole network is over.
We have to face the fact: CS is a company and simply can do what it does. We are “only” users of a (so far free) service offered by a company, not members of an open network. There is no such thing like participation in CS and in consequence the field “How I Participate in CS2″ on the profile pages should be ditched. Also the mission should be changed to:
“Donate for Creating a Bigger Corporation, One Job at a Time!”
Things left we can do:
- don’t forget about all the nice experiences
- demask attempts by CS to call a top-to-down structure a place of
- being aware of the fact that most couchsurfer simply don’t care
- looking for / creating projects with an appropriate form of structure
- don’t get frustrated
Her mit den Abenteuern! (German for something like “Gimme adventures!”)
During all recent events I often thought about what must be going on in Casey’s head. He’s the one pulling the strings. Then I remembered an email I received from Casey Fenton, a long time ago, November 29, 2005 10:01 PM to be exactly.
Subject: Censorship in Hospitality Club / CS
I was just sent a link to your page about HC censorship.
You said: “The thing that I find most revolting is that it, at least to
me at this point, seems such a closed process. Rules are somehow being
set up, and the 90000 members of HC are just to follow them.
CouchSurfing has actually the same problem, and I think it will be good
to address this.” I was wondering what the problem is that CS has that
you’re referring to? We always want to make sure that we’re doing
things right… and it there’s something we’re not doing right, please
let us know! If you need any questions answered, I’d be happy to answer
btw, love your photos… especially the one of those kids in Bamako and
the one of you on the beach with the guitar.
Which implies that Casey read about the ideas I have for hospitality exchange a long time before we actually met in Montreal. As Joe wrote: “Many aspects of CouchSurfing have been marred by these issues: (a) a tendency to do
things in the dark, (b) a tendency to tell people what they want to hear, and (c) a tendency to work *near* people, but not *with* them.”
Sometimes I feel sad, sometimes I feel bitter. But…
Life is still good, though I hope that some things will change. In my opionion there are several principles a free hospitality exchange network must follow:
- Open policies
- It should be clear what is going on. Policies and guidelines should be accessible by anyone.
- Democratic processes
- All people making part of the network should be able to take part in discussions.
- Open data
- People should be able to “take” their own data in a portable, open format onto their computer, into their phone. It should be possible to give permission to others (based on a trust level) to copy part of one’s information. Similar to ideas implemented in Indyvoter (http://beta.indyvoter.org).
- Free software
- Like Wikipedia, hospitality exchange networks should be based on free software. This will attract more programmers, open up new possibilities (like integrating electronic authentification and encryption (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GnuPG) or efficient access on portable devices (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/05/25/139202&from=rss), extending it into a getting-car-rides system where drivers and hitchhikers can get in touch using GPS…).